frankenstein’s monster and the greatest con…

Francis Schaeffer teaches in “A Christian Manifesto” that Christians have been busy fighting symptoms.  We attack abortion.  We attack sexual issues.  We attack divorce.  We attack pornography.  Granted, all these issues, and in fact all issues period, need to be addressed in a loving and truthful way based on what God’s Word tells us.  However, we have failed to address the cause of these symptoms.  The underlying cause of these symptoms is a shift in world view.  We have experienced a shift from a world view in which, however vaguely, most of us believed that God was the ultimate reality of the universe.  The shift that has occurred is to a materialistic view of the world.  I do not mean “materialistic” in the sense of consumerism, though consumerism is one of the symptoms of the type of materialism I am addressing.  I mean materialism in the sense that the ultimate base of reality is impersonal energy.  We have dissected the universe, attached a label to the parts, and when we put it back together again we find we have created a corpse!  Like Frankenstein’s monster, we have assembled mankind (and the universe) out of parts from a graveyard, and expected that somehow man was no more than the sum of those parts.  Then we stand amazed when the soul-less monster we have created begins to wreak havoc!

Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that when you treat a symptom rather than a cause, you drive the cause deeper into your body.  It then manifests itself as something much worse than you began with.  If you get a cold and simply suppress your cough, then it drives deeper into your chest and becomes pneumonia.  If you treat only the symptoms of pneumonia, then it drives deeper and eventually becomes cancer.  I would argue that we as the Church have been treating symptoms for so long that this materialistic worldview has spread like a cancer through our very bones!  We are wholly unprepared to deal with the reality of a God that is here and now.

A Christian brother sent me a link to a blog by Father Stephen.  I wholeheartedly recommend reading what both of these men have to say.  Father Stephen says that the problem of Christianity is not that we don’t believe, but that we ship our experience off-shore.  We behave as if all real spiritual activity takes place somewhere other than right here and right now.  He continues to say:

Thus salvation is something accomplished in history (on the cross) or in the mind of God (a forensic or legal atonement) or anywhere other than here and now. Sacraments become memorials, a testimony to Divine Absence rather than Divine Presence. Initiation into the Church is accomplished by an “ordinance” which is simply viewed as a sign, a public act of obedience in which nothing happens (except perhaps in the off-shore location).

We have a schizophrenic view of God.  We see a God of Holiness in the Old Testament.  Then we see a God of Grace and Love in the New Testament.  We can’t seem to wrap our heads around the fact that God’s Holiness is His Love and His Love is His Holiness!  Even when we do manage to get the full image of God, we are still left with this idea of Him as our really big friend who lives a long way away, but who promises to make things good for us one day.  We treat prayer as a last resort; a desperate act that only works on television or in Guideposts magazine.  We think of angels as tiny little bits of our conscience, sitting on our shoulder arguing with a devil in red pajamas.  We think of demons as subjects for scary movies, but not much more than that.  As the French poet Baudelaire first pointed out, “la plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu’il n’existe pas!” (“The Devil’s best trick is to persuade you he doesn’t exist!”).

A friend of mine made a very good point about this.  He said that this is, in a lot of ways, a problem of the American view of God.  We have, as a nation, experienced unprecedented wealth.  So, we view God as a God who gives us stuff.  We base the worth of a person on the number and the cost of the things the has.  We are obsessed with things we can touch.  So, even though God is the God of all of reality, we think of Him in that off-shore location that Father Stephen spoke of.  What’s more, we have a really difficult time with the Gospel.  We want to add rules to follow.  We want to make it about our own effort.  We live in a nation that prides itself on the notion that anyone can, if she works hard enough, rise from poverty.  A person can work, and sweat, and slave, and make something of himself.  So, this idea of submitting…this idea that no matter how hard I try, it’s not good enough…this is nearly impossible for us to grasp.  How could it be that the result of pride, and doing it myself, never asking for help, ends up with hell?  How could it be that the result of saying, “I can’t do this!  I need you!  Please save me!” is really what makes us fully human?  But it is.  It is the beautiful paradox of the Gospel.

So what do we do about this?  I feel like I’m being very harsh on the Church.  But it is because I love the Church.  And I believe that we have so many things right.  But because of this love, I cannot help but draw attention to the places we find ourselves lacking.  We are being taken to school by the new agers, the modern pagans, the taoist-witch-pantheists, when it comes to this understanding that we are separated from Divinity by only the thinnest of veils (and a veil that is really our own blindness to the fact that the veil was torn when Christ died on the cross).  It is a shame.  We have in God’s Word, the manual.  We have the key to understanding how to navigate the supernatural.  We have the key to understanding that the supernatural and the natural are not really separate.  As E.E. Cummings so aptly wrote of humanity, we as the Church are “perpetually putting the secret of life in [our] pants and forgetting it’s there and sitting down on it.”  We hold the keys.  It is high time we dig them from the cracks in the sofa where we’ve lost them, and begin to put them to use!

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” – Luke 3:16

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About Andrew

The Universe is Round. View all posts by Andrew

12 responses to “frankenstein’s monster and the greatest con…

  • Michael

    One fragment of God is worth more than the whole universe.

  • Andrew

    Very true words, Michael. But isn’t a fuller understanding of the totality of God over all of existence worth more than a partial understanding?

  • shevaberakhot

    If Christians claim to know God then they do so in communion with Jesus Christ, who is in God. False Christs and offshore Christs (not the same thing) promise heaven and earth, but fail to deliver on either.

  • Romanós

    There’s nothing you seem to have missed, brother. All bases covered in this well-thought out and well-written message. Forgive me for speaking well of you, but I am just reading your good words and giving the praise to our Father in heaven. No one and nothing is going to push you off the Rock you’re standing on. Thanks for this good teaching. I will come back and re-read it. God bless you Andrew.

    Axios adelphós mou, áxios!

  • Robert

    Andrew,

    It is however not in mere understanding that our dilemma is solved. The Christian Faith is not an ideology nor a worldview in essence. It is, however, obedience to Christ’s call to deny ourselves and follow Him that we find life. It is this, precisely, which we have failed to do. Thus we find ourselves in a world caught up in materialism as you so well point out.

    So, it starts with us. Let us die to ourselves, pick our cross and follow our Lord. We will then see changes. Big changes.

  • Andrew

    Robert,

    We are in agreement, I believe. I did not mean to imply that if we simply understood God better than we would somehow fix ourselves. I do not believe that we can fully understand God, this side of Glory, nor can we in any way fix ourselves. It is in total denial of our selves, and in clinging desperately to our Savior that we have any hope at all.

    And I think we agree that the materialistic viewpoint of ultimate reality stems from our prideful refusal of God’s Lordship over every aspect of reality. It is, as you say, precisely that refusal to deny ourselves and follow Christ that leads to this materialism. It is precisely this refusal that leads to every sin and every error that we make!

    Thank you, brother, for your comments. And thank you for helping to clarify.

  • Michael

    Andrew,

    All religions invariably involve man seeking God. In Jesus Christ we discover that it is God who seeks man. One of my favourite quotes:

    “Though I surrender my body to be burned in the flames and give all I have to have to the poor, yet still have not love, I gain nothing.”

    St. Paul.

  • Michael

    Andrew,

    All religions invariably involve some aspect of man seeking out God. In Jesus Christ we discover that it is God who seeks out man. One of my favourite quotes, which I believe will mean something to you:

    “Though I surrender my body to be burned in the flames and give all I have to the poor, yet still do have not love, I gain nothing.”

    St. Paul.

  • Andrew(feotu)

    Andrew,

    i love what you saying…

    The idea that God is one that gives us stuff is so far from the gospel of Jesus. Jesus said just the opposite. “give your stuff away” ,

    Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mark 10:21

    Yes, The problem with Frankie’s monster is that the heart was put in the wrong place! (Matthew 6: 19-21)

    Be blessed
    A

  • Andrew

    Michael, I agree with you one again. Christianity is in fact God reaching down (and coming down) to us. And there is nothing we can do, even giving everything away, which will put us right with God. God is after our heart. But, as James teaches us, Faith without works is dead. It is when we do these things *with* Love (that’s capital “L” Love…God Love) that the power of God gets involved. I like the quote from C.S. Lewis, “You wouldn’t have called to me if I had not been calling to you,’ said the Lion.”

    I have a post on this very subject written a while back. Here’s the link: https://andrewbmills23.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/the-one-and-only-way/.

    Andrew (feotu), thank you for your kind words. And I love your last line! When I get out of seminary, and have a church, and preach my first sermon on this subject, I promise to give you credit when I rip that one off! 🙂

    -Andrew

  • Michael

    Andrew,

    I loved the way Captain Dan was always Captain Dan to Forrest, and as for Aslan, boy, it only took ONE roar!

    Everything in the earth is the Lord’s and so is the fullness thereof.

    Be blessed.

    Michael.

  • shevaberakhot

    Andrew,

    My Catholic upbringing has given me something of immense value. The Presence of God is not so much a mental thing (if it were then it I couldn’t possibly be abiding in God ).
    It’s much, much more than that.

    Speaking of dinosaurs just look at what the cat dragged in. I should think it’s just an excuse to live a hedonistic lifestyle without the guilt trips. Sounds like Wicca to me.

    Michael
    —————————————————–
    THE CAMPAIGN

    The Atheist Bus Campaign began thanks to readers of The Guardian’s Comment Is Free blog. Comedy writer Ariane Sherine wrote an article in June 2008:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jun/20/transport.religion

    about the Christian adverts running on London buses, which linked to a website saying non-believers would burn in hell for all eternity.

    Sherine suggested that perhaps atheists reading her blog could each donate £5 to fund a reassuring counter-advert saying:

    “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

    She explained that the word ‘probably’ was included so that the advert would be allowed to run.

    Hundreds of Cif readers then offered to contribute to the proposed ad, including political blogger Jon Worth, who set up a Pledgebank page so readers could register their support. After just six weeks, 877 people had signed up, and another 1300 joined the campaign after Sherine’s follow-up piece on The Guardian site:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/06/richarddawkins.religion

    British Humanist Association then offered to lend its support to the campaign and administer all donations.

    CBS Outdoor, the bus advertising company will now run the atheist adverts across the UK in January. This will be Britain’s first ever atheist advertising campaign.

    Please join this group to show your support for the campaign. You can also email Ariane directly at ariane@arianesherine.com with “Atheist Bus” in the subject line to register for updates.

    Thank you.

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